Now that it's finally time to downsize, which Central New Jersey community is for you? 

The word downsize does not mean the same thing for everyone. Although many baby boomers look forward to doing so as retirement approaches, individual goals can be quite diverse.

A traditional definition of the word might equal moving into a small, inexpensive home that requires less maintenance and care. Others may seek similar sized or larger residences that provide amenities that require less effort for working out, getting their hair done, or spending time with friends at the pool. Being able to walk or drive a short distance to the community clubhouse instead of heading into town is a true luxury.

There are many 55+ communities throughout the country that are perfect for living these desirable lifestyles. And like other regions, Central New Jersey caters to active adults that seek to make this change, whatever their definition of downsizing might be.

If you have chosen a retirement location like Central Jersey, a major step is already completed. Now, you will need to consider some questions. What are your priorities for achieving happiness when you downsize? How do you want to spend your time? Children and grandchildren are a priority for many, and if they live far away you may need an extra bedroom.

Active adults who want to travel frequently should take those costs into consideration. Others who prefer staying close to home should research the community’s amenities and nearby attractions. Conveniences like nearby shopping centers and good medical care are also akin to low-maintenance living.

Here are five Central New Jersey communities that offer good floor plans and prices for active adults looking to downsize.

The Pointe at Turnbury - Monmouth Junction

Mid $300s - High $300s

The Pointe at Turnbury, a newer, gated 55+ neighborhood of 190 attached resale homes, was built outside just of Princeton. It is open to homeowners ages 48 and up if one household member is at least age 55.

There are seven floor plans ranging from 1,844 to 2,508 square feet, each with two to three bedrooms, two-and-a-half to three bathrooms, and an attached two-car garage. They feature roomy, first-floor master suites and gourmet kitchens. Neighbors gather at the modern clubhouse and spend quality time in the sunroom, the beauty salon, and the library. Groups for billiards, parties, cards, and meditation meet in the activity rooms or get together for day trips and movie nights.

The Essex and Sussex - Spring Lake

High $100s - High $500s

One of the most distinctive active adult communities in Central Jersey is The Essex and Sussex. This refurbished hotel was built across from the Atlantic Ocean in 1914 and restored and turned into a condo community in the early 2000s. There are 165 condo units from 420 to 700 square feet. Most have one bedroom and bathroom and reserved parking spots.

Active adult homeowners here love the “hotel style” living, as they get to come home to an impressive atrium and lobby and enjoy meals in the dining rooms and bistro. There is also a solarium, a fitness center, a media theater, a cocktail lounge, and beach access.

Shadow Lake Village - Red Bank

Low $100s - Mid $300s

As a large, well-established active adult community of 952 resale attached homes, Shadow Lake Village offers 14 floor plans ranging from 909 to 1,391 square feet. These have one or two bedrooms, one or two bathrooms, and either a parking spot or garage. Some models include dens, patios, and balconies.

A homeowners' association fee covers trash pickup, landscaping, and a community shuttle. Residents enjoy leisure time at the community fitness center, sauna, outdoor pool, 9-hole golf course, boating & fishing lake, and friendly competition at the bocce, shuffleboard, and tennis courts.

The Ponds - Monroe

Mid $200s - Mid $300s

A Pulte active adult neighborhood, The Ponds was built from 1994 to 1999 and has 575 attached and single-family homes. The townhomes range from 1,237 to 1,800 square feet with two bedrooms, two or two-and-a-half baths, and attached one or two-car garages. Options include patios and expansive master suites.

The 25,000 square-foot clubhouse has an arts & crafts studio and woodworking shop, an exercise room, activity rooms, and a library. Outside, there is a refreshing outdoor pool, sports courts, a 9-hole putting green, trails, ponds, and natural space. The Ponds also has dozens of vibrant social and activity clubs, including photography, B'nai B'rith, an Italian American Club, women’s and men’s clubs, investment clubs, and more.

Carriage Park - Lawrence

Low $100s - High $100s

Smaller is better at Carriage Park, which offers cozy condo living at an affordable cost. With 210 resale homes and fifteen floor plans ranging from 723 to 1,540 square feet with studios and one- to two-bedroom and bathroom units. Features include granite counters, balconies, and basement storage spots.

The community clubhouse has an exercise room, lounge, billiards room, library, and an arts and crafts studio. There is also an outdoor pool, horseshoes, walking trails, shuffleboard, and bocce. The homeowners' association fee provides for lawn care, trash and snow removal, and exterior building maintenance.